Hey (mean) Girl.

I can't remember the last time I was in a situation with a bunch of mean girls. So when I found myself at a bachelorette party for my best friend with a clique of four bitchy ladies, I didn't know what to think about it.

First of all, cliques and bachelorette parties don't exactly go together. The reason you're all there in the first place is to celebrate the bride-to-be, even if you're not all best buddies. Putting the focus on her having a good time should be enough to pull the group together. But when there's a mean girl or two in the mix, it's hard to be unified.

Actual things that happened over the course of the weekend:

  • Clique decides to leave for the beach an hour after the rest of us do. Then they decide to leave early and make several pit stops on the way back to the hotel, excluding the bride among others.
  • After going out dancing, clique decides to go on a rickshaw tour around the city--without the bride.
  • Sunday morning, clique decides to have breakfast in the hotel--without asking the bride who was in the adjoining room if she wanted to join.
The worst part was that they paid lip service to the idea of all of us being together, but then went out of their way to minimize that time as a group. And it hurt my friend's feelings when the whole weekend was supposed to be about her. While they aren't my friends and I don't really value  what they think about me, I felt disrespected as the planner of the weekend.  Later I was annoyed to hear that the Queen Bee of the group was talking shit about me behind my back. I have no way of knowing if it's true, but it's disturbing.

SaraKay Smullens talks about dealing with mean girls in the grown-up sphere:
So what to do if, in your life, you come face to face with this "Mean Adult" syndrome? Most importantly, know that confident, secure people do not act in a thoughtless and exclusionary way. Further, friends who witness it will immediately intervene if they see it happening. This of course means that "friends" who stand by allowing this need to be crossed off of the friends list, sooner rather than later.
I'm grateful for this weekend in a way because it made me realize that I'm a thoughtful friend and I don't have anyone in my life whom I would classify as mean. Sadly my friend is having to reevaluate her relationships with these women, but better to do so now rather than later.

Photo: Filler Magazine

Only the Lonely

Dad, when are you coming home? 

Does a week at home alone to do whatever you want, including running around the house in your underwear and dipping tortilla chips straight into a tub of sour cream, sound awesome? Yeah, it did to me too until I actually got it. Now it just feels kind of sucky.

MT is off on a work trip (ha, his turn finally!) and we won't see each other for nearly a week. At first I thought I might enjoy the alone time, which I have to an extent, but at a certain point watching Real Housewives of Bumbfuck and eating frozen chocolate chip cookie dough loses its luster, especially the morning after when I feel the surge of regret over my dietary choices.

Life with MT is just better. Period. The only upside to his being gone is that it makes me appreciate him more (that and I have total control over messes and when they get picked up.) But his absence has also left me feeling a little I have been walking around in a sort of fog. I did have social plans on Tuesday (that got cancelled) and Wednesday (that went really well), so I don't feel too much like a pathetic wife waiting for her husband to come home so she can make him dinner (which rarely happens in our house because Matt is the real cook.)

Rather than feeling too sorry for myself, I am just really grateful to have MT in my life, as my live-in buddy and confidante. It's nice to have someone to walk with the dog with at the end of the day and talk about what went down at work. It's fun to have someone who wants to stay up late playing Lego Harry Potter on the PS3 and will even stop to make popcorn in the middle of it because you are hungry. I feel really fortunate that we fit together in the small ways like that.

Baby, please come home. Our DVR is full of things I cannot watch until you return.

Reflections on Wedding Planning (Part Four): Other People's Weddings

Exactly three months after our wedding, MT and I got to celebrate the marriage of my brother and his new wife, and it was absolutely impossible not to compare the two. While we planned for 13 months, they planned it all in 6. We had 50 guests; they had double that. But probably the biggest difference was in their level of enjoyment, especially my brother. He was totally stressed and anxious the entire weekend with few exceptions! If I had to give him some advice, this is what I'd say.

How to have a low-stress wedding

1. Give yourself more time to plan if you can wait. That way you're making fewer big decisions at a time.
2. Hire a coordinator if you can afford to. If you aren't naturally organized, hire someone to be organized for you.
3.  Put time and energy into your wedding service. Don't wait until the week of the wedding to find out that it's stuffy and impersonal because by then it's too late to change it.
4. Communicate with people before the wedding weekend about when they need to be where. Finding out about family pictures through hearsay isn't the best way to get everyone together and organized.
5. Have an actual count of your guests so you're not surprised when you have more people than you have seats.
6. When it doesn't go according to plan, just take deep breaths and realize you're married and that was the whole point of having a wedding in the first place!

Late Night Laughs

Instead of our usual Kindle reading at bedtime, MT and I were snuggling up to each other, exhausted from our respective days. Tired from the worries of the world and annoyances at work, it felt so calm and peaceful to be still and quiet in our togetherness.

After a few minutes, MT said sweetly, "My favorite part of the day is coming home to you."

I don't know why, but I responded, "My favorite is lunch."

We then proceeded to giggle uncontrollably for the next ten minutes. It was a laugh that we both needed--a reminder that there is joy and goodness during the darkest of times.

It's great to be married to your buddy who likes to laugh as much as you do.

Rage Fatigue

Have you ever experienced this? When things in the world just seem so crappy that you don't even want to leave your house ever again? That's how I've been feeling lately.

As much as I love a job where I get to feel like I'm making a difference in the world, it's also really exhausting. Each bad policy or funding cut or snub from a nay-sayer takes a toll on what used to feel like an endless supply of passion and energy for creating long-term systemic change for the betterment of all people. My, how lofty. Now I just want to read Jezebel and work from home in my pajamas.

That's the danger, right? I feel my sense of impact drifting away, wondering if what I am doing is really doing any good when all I see are forces larger than myself no longer chipping but hammering away at the values I try to uphold in my life and work.

As outraged as I was at the goings on in North Carolina and Texas and Ohio, I couldn't muster up the energy to go stand as an act of protest. I felt defeated, deflated. I still do. I won't even go into the hate-filled gibberish plastered all over my Facebook feed after Saturday night. I don't have the energy to argue. I want peace.

And yet, isn't it my privilege that allows me to choose when to turn it off, tune it out? The guilt of that is crushing...and defeating...and deflating.

I need some light and love. And to stop feeling sorry for myself! And watch John Legend sing.

Maybe Baby?: Purposeful Conception


Before you get too many ideas, MT and I are NOT expecting a baby right now, but we are talking about it and preparing ourselves for what having a child would mean for us. A few months ago I read a book called Taking Charge of Your Fertility, which I would highly recommend to anyone with a uterus (or in relationship with a person who has a uterus.) You definitely don't need to be thinking about getting pregnant to benefit from this book. It will amaze you how little most of us know about how our fertility actually works.

As great as this book has been and as much as I've enjoyed charting my cycles, I have not found much good preparation in terms of the other aspects of pre-conception/conception/pregnancy/parenting, like all of the emotional, psychological, financial, relational, and other changes that will rock our world. That's why I am super pumped to be part of the Purposeful Conception e-course that starts next Monday.

This course was designed by Sara, writer at Feeding the Soil and formerly 2000 Dollar Wedding, who spent a year researching and educating herself on all things pregnancy related before she and her husband began trying to conceive (they now have two little boys, one just born about a week ago!) She took all of that information and developed it into an online course for people who are thinking about conceiving a child or who are actively trying to conceive. The course has sessions for four weeks and includes an online community for discussion and questions. I was thrilled to find such a rich resource because she's done so much of the hard work for us and we get to benefit from her year of study.

I'm super excited for MT and I to go on this journey together as we explore the idea of becoming parents on day. There's still time to sign up for the class. Let me know if you join!

The "Ick"-th Sense

I am a closeted People magazine subscriber. It's not something I'm proud of. But when you're a frequent traveler like me trying to figure out how to kill the time between the nonsensical command to discontinue use of all portable electronic devices and that sweet, sweet tone notification that you've hit your cruising altitude and can whip out the Kindle, an issue of People magazine is the perfect solution. It's light-weight, full of pictures, and requires the attention-span of a squirmy four-year-old to finish. Granted it did spoil all of Downton Abbey endings for me, but the issues keep a'comin' and I keep a'readin'.

Since I'm taking a much-needed breather from work travel this month, I decided to take along the latest issue with me on my morning walk with Lucy. Imagine my horror when I stumbled upon this disaster.

This, my friends, is a scratch 'n' sniff card to accompany the premiere of the next season of what must be the biggest tragedy of television history, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. Seriously, a Watch 'N' Sniff? Admittedly I do watch the occasional* TLC show, but this one is too gross for me to watch, even without breathing in various forms of stench as I do.

I cannot imagine anything more ridiculously disgusting than smelling a show like this. Can you even begin to guess how much money was spent on creating the scents to accompany these stupid scratch 'n' sniff cards that smell like bodily functions?

America, we are a disgusting bunch. That being said, if anyone would like one of these cards, let me know and I'll mail it to you. As a connoisseur of pretty awful reality TV shows myself, I have no place to judge.

*Ahem, frequent. Sister Wives! Breaking Amish! Four Weddings!

Why Did I Return to Ohio?

Just over two years ago I wrote this post about meeting my future husband on a trip to visit my boss at the time up in Ohio. I remember that weekend as warm, sun-shiny, and exhilarating with all of that new romance in the air and inklings of a future together.

Fast forward to last week when we went back to visit them. As it turns out, Ohio ain't so great, y'all.  Especially when it's pouring down rain and you're stuck at your in-laws' house where they insist on buying generic ketchup for their barbecue and keeping the thermostat at a steamy 78 degrees. Even visiting the place where we had our first kiss (their hot tub, classy right?) wasn't so great when good ole' Pops was there with us and the water wasn't all that hot. (What is up with their weird temperature issues?!)

Despite their uncomfortable (at least for us) parsimonious life-style choices, our time together was mostly positive. We timed it just right, arriving late on Wednesday and leaving at the crack of dawn on Saturday, thereby avoiding the "house-guests are like fish" situation of staying a third full day. Minus a few prying questions about our marriage and plans to have children, the highlight of the time was having deep conversations about our lives and what we are learning about ourselves through self-reflection. That probably sounds like a snooze-fest, but for us that is quite possibly the most fascinating way to spend time. I learned that my boss turned stepmother-in-law has been in therapy for months, working on her judgmental tendencies, and how that has improved their relationship.

At the end of the visit, I felt closer to my husband and appreciated him more, mostly because he is the only non-crazy person in his family. I have no idea how he managed this, but kudos to him!

On a Soap Box

I am ashamed of my state legislature.

Cutting unemployment benefits.

Cutting education and teacher pay.

Suppressing voters.

And just last night:

Sneaking anti-abortion measures into an anti-sharia bill with no notice

I hope you're all paying attention to what's happening in your state legislature because this shit is happening everywhere, y'all.

Reflections on Wedding Planning (Part Three): It's Not About the Gifts

Did y'all see that crazy post on Jezebel about the couple who decided to confront one of their guests about how they thought his gift was crappy because it included Marshmallow fluff?

I highly recommend you read it because you will be A) horrified and B) amused. If you don't have the time, I'll say that this line from one of the brides sums it all up: "Weddings are to make money for your future." 

I will go ahead and let that one sink in for all of you. Ready to move on? Good. Weddings, as it turns out, are not actually about making money for your future. And if that's what you're expecting from your family, friends, and other guests, you will be grossly disappointed.

As it turns out, people have all kinds of ideas about what it means to be invited to a wedding and how they should act. If you are a person who thinks, "But that's just what you do when you're a wedding guest!," you will be shocked at how others don't demonstrate the behavior that you expect. I don't really think there's a way to avoid this, but I will just say that my lesson learned is that the people you don't expect to be gracious will often go above and beyond, and those who should be won't always do what you think is appropriate.

If I measured the quality of my friendships based on how my friends went about the whole wedding gift thing, I would think that some of them suck big time. And there were moments when I felt really angry that folks hadn't even thought to give us a card. I mean, a card? It's not that much effort. (Again with the "that's just WHAT YOU DO!" that came to haunt me over and over.)

Probably the hardest to deal with were the guests whose weddings I attended recently and had written nice checks for, and they didn't give us anything in return. Granted, folks have a year to give a wedding gift, so perhaps they'll surprise me. But I'm not holding my breath! And in some ways it was even worse to not get a gift from couples who have weddings coming up--because now what do we do in response? Do the right thing or the commensurate thing? It's tough to know what won't leave me feeling resentful or feeling petty.

Here's the thing. Weddings are about having a community of love and support witness your special day. Not everyone will be on their best behavior. Not everyone will be generous. But enough of them will that you'll know you're loved, and even if they don't, you still married the person you love most. And that was kind of the point anyway.

Also, it should go without saying, but just in case: you should probably plan a wedding that you can afford, so  if the money doesn't come rolling in, you aren't starting your marriage in the red.

I personally think Marshmallow Fluff is delightful.